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Four dead, more than 20 injured in Czech train crash

Two dead, dozens injured in Czech train crash: spokesman
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Four people were killed and more than 20 injured when an express train crashed head-on with a freight train in the central Czech city of Pardubice, officials said on Thursday.

The express train from Prague with more than 300 passengers on board was due to travel overnight from Wednesday to Thursday to the Ukrainian town of Chop when it collided with the freight train, which was carrying calcium carbide, a caustic and flammable chemical.

Images from the scene on Czech TV showed a mangled and derailed carriage with disoriented passengers, some wrapped in blankets, being ushered into buses.

Prime Minister Petr Fiala described the crash as “a great disaster”.

“We all think of the victims and the injured. I express sincere condolences to the bereaved,” he wrote on X, formerly Twitter.

The accident happened shortly before 11:00 pm (2100 GMT) on Wednesday night near the main train station in Pardubice, around 100 kilometres (60 miles) east of the capital Prague.

Local emergency services spokeswoman Alena Kisiala told AFP that paramedics had treated 26 injured people.

“Four of them unfortunately suffered injuries incompatible with life,” she added.

Ukraine’s foreign ministry said two Ukrainian women were among the dead.

Slovakia’s foreign ministry added the other two victims were Slovak women and that another four Slovaks had been injured, with three receiving hospital treatment but in a stable condition.

Czech Interior Minister Vit Rakusan said that the majority of the injuries were described as light.

The express train, operated by the private Regiojet company, was expected in Ukraine’s Chop early on Thursday.

The mangled wreckage blocked the main train corridor connecting Prague with the Czech Republic’s second and third cities of Brno and Ostrava for hours, with trains being replaced by buses.

Rakusan said that police were identifying the passengers gathered at the train station.

Rescuers said that nine ambulances, two helicopters and more than 60 firefighters had been deployed.

“The rescue work was complicated because the first carriage was deformed. That made it hard to access the injured people,” firefighter Pavel Ber told reporters at the site.

Local fire brigade spokeswoman Vendula Horakova told Czech TV the freight train was transporting calcium carbide.

But she added there was no spill or explosion as the first two wagons, which took most of the impact, were empty.

An investigation into the cause of the accident is under way, Transport Minister Martin Kupka said.

Writing on X, he said that the accident occurred after the express train ran a red light.

Rail inspectors are looking into the reason, whether a technical defect, human error or a combination of both, Kupka said.

Pardubice was also the scene of the worst-ever Czech railway accident in 1960 when 118 people died and around 100 were injured in a head-on collision between two passenger trains just north of the city.

More recent crashes on Czech railways include a 2020 head-on collision of two passenger trains in the west of the country that left two people dead and 24 injured, and a 2021 crash that killed three people and injured around 70.

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AFP

Agence France-Presse (AFP) is a French international news agency headquartered in Paris, France. Founded in 1835 as Havas, it is the world's oldest news agency.







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